Unless you’ve had your head in the clouds for the last decade or so, you’ll no doubt have heard of a new phenomenon sweeping the world of commerce called cloud computing. But while you’ll surely be familiar with the term, you might not yet fully understand what it is and how it can help your business.
If that sounds familiar, this handy article is here to help. As well as breaking down what cloud computing consists of in easy, no-nonsense language, we’ll also run through the advantages that it can offer and some examples of practical situations where it can yield benefits for you and your business. Read on to find out more.
What is cloud computing?
In layman’s terms, cloud computing is the practice of outsourcing the processing power and database storage space that your business needs to operate online to a third-party. Traditionally, businesses who wished to migrate into an online environment would formerly have to fork out on the servers and other relevant hardware to ensure their website met the fluctuating demands of customers, 24/7.
This could create problems in practice, especially for solo entrepreneurs or other fledgling businesses trying to gain a foothold in their industry. Estimating the exact needs of an enterprise before its launch is a tricky business with problematic consequences; overestimating demand would leave them with unused hardware which exhausts the budget unnecessarily, while underestimation could result in slow loading times, glitches, and a poorer customer experience all round.
The answer? Outsourcing the servers to a dedicated cloud computing provider, who can supply the exact amount of processing power and storage space that you need, as and when you need it. This allows for a ready-made solution that is both affordable and scalable, so your business can grow at its own pace.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
While every company will prosper from migrating to the cloud in different ways, here are some of the key benefits of taking the plunge:
· Affordability. Since you’ll only ever pay for the resources that you actually consume, you’ll find cloud computing far preferable from an economic standpoint than traditional methods of doing business online.
· Scalability. On the same theme, the ability to scale your operations up or down at the drop of the hat means you can tailor your site’s capabilities to meet fluctuating demands.
· Connectivity. With all of your data stored in centralised, cloud-based data centres, you and your workforce can access vital documents and share them with colleagues anytime, anywhere, and from any device.
· Agility. That ability to connect with others over long distances is key to increasing the agility of your business and allowing different departments to interact seamlessly with each other. Not only will this ramp up productivity, but it will also bring down costs.
· User experience. With dedicated firepower at your beck and call, you can rest assured that every single visitor to your site has an impeccable user experience, with no downtime, lagging, or other issues.
Who can benefit from cloud computing?
The short answer to this question is that everyone can benefit from cloud computing. However, in order to help you better visualise the unique advantages that migration to the cloud can bring, here are some case study scenarios from an e-commerce platform:
· R&D. If your research and development teams can access the resources they need at the drop of a hat, you can rapidly accelerate the time it takes for a new idea to progress from the drawing board to the shop floor.
· Manufacturing. The use of production schedule software in the cloud can help you anticipate demand and alter your order of raw materials according, exercise exemplary cost control, and improve efficiency.
· Marketing. The ability to log on remotely is crucial to helping your marketing teams integrate their efforts and automate processes online, ensuring that your campaigns are as successful as they are streamlined.
· Sales. With all data contained in a centralised location, you can easily keep track of the orders on your site and analyse the click-through rates of its visitors, optimising their experience and preventing stock shortages.
· IT. With your IT department no longer having to worry about acquiring and optimising server capacity, they’ll be freed up to work on more important (and lucrative) endeavours.